Urgency in the Anthropocene
A proposal to reframe the Anthropocene as an age of actual and emerging coexistence with earth system variability, encompassing both human dignity and environmental sustainability.
Is this the Anthropocene, the age in which humans have become a geological force, leaving indelible signs of their activities on the earth? The narrative of the Anthropocene so far is characterized by extremes, emergencies, and exceptions—a tale of apocalypse by our own hands. The sense of ongoing crisis emboldens policy and governance responses that challenge established systems of sovereignty and law. The once unacceptable—geoengineering technology, for example, or authoritarian decision making—are now anticipated and even demanded by some. To counter this, Amanda Lynch and Siri Veland propose a reframing of the Anthropocene—seeing it not as a race against catastrophe but as an age of emerging coexistence with earth system variability.
Lynch and Veland examine the interplay between our new state of ostensible urgency and the means by which this urgency is identified and addressed. They examine how societies, including Indigenous societies, have understood such interplays; explore how extreme weather and climate weave into the Anthropocene narrative; consider the tension between the short time scale of disasters and the longer time scale of sustainability; and discuss both international and national approaches to Anthropocene governance. Finally, they argue for an Anthropocene of coexistence that embraces both human dignity and sustainability.
Hardcover$90.00 X | £70.00 ISBN: 9780262038706 256 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 11 b&w illus.
Paperback$30.00 S | £24.00 ISBN: 9780262535762 256 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 11 b&w illus.
This wonderful and timely book presents an insightful analysis of the many myths and tensions underlying current responses to the Anthropocene. More importantly, it offers a compelling approach for navigating transformations with both wisdom and dignity.
University of Oslo
Lynch and Veland present a compelling case for agility and openness to manage today's complexities and attendant anxieties, while illustrating the risks of orthodox and antagonistic approaches to climate change. Extraordinary in scope and scholarship, drawing on paleontology and studies of antiquity, the history of science, philosophy, ethics, and climate science, this book is essential reading for anyone interested in the planet, the environment, its care, and our futures. Its lesson is one of deep engagement and optimism.
Distinguished Professor of Public Health and Medical Anthropology School of Public Health, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
The “Anthropocene” is an apt concept for our world—the entire planet is being transformed by humans, and our future will be defined by this transformation. Can we make our world sustainable and just? This book zeroes in on this challenge, a challenge we must all become more involved with.
Jonathan T. Overpeck
Samuel A. Graham Dean, School for Environment and Sustainability, University of Michigan